Tomas weakens slightly but expected to re-strengthen -Rains could start earlier


The Meteorological Service is reporting that over the past few hours Tropical Storm Tomas experienced slight weakening, but is still expected to re-strengthen within the next 24-48 hours over the south-central Caribbean Sea.
At 1:00 p.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Tomas was located near Latitude 13.5 degrees North, Longitude 74.5 degrees West; about 520 km (320 miles) south-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica or 570 km (370 miles) south-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Tomas is moving towards the west near 22 km/h (14 mph) and maximum sustained winds remain near 65 km/h (40 mph), with higher gusts.
Reconnaissance aircraft has investigated Tropical Storm Tomas and found the maximum sustained winds near the centre to be slightly lower than previously estimated. The forecast, however, is for the system to gradually re-strengthen to hurricane strength on Wednesday and gradually turn towards the northeast by Thursday. It would then pass over the waters east of Jamaica on Friday on its way to Haiti.
Sections of Jamaica could experience hurricane force winds as Tomas stays on the projected path moving close to the eastern end of the country. Bands of heavy showers and thunderstorms could start affecting the island as early as Thursday, and above-normal wave heights should be expected over coastal areas of northern and southeastern parishes during that time.
Over the waters, northeasterly winds are forecast to increase to gale force by Thursday, mainly south of the island. By Friday, these are likely to become near northerly at hurricane strength. All small craft, including fishers from the cays and banks, should now be arriving in port to start preparations for safe harbour. Anyone still operating on the cays and banks should evacuate immediately.
The Meteorological Service continues to monitor the progress of this system.

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